Tag Archives: psychology

Three Reasons a Standing Desk Will Save Your Life (Part 1)

The average American adult sits 15.5 hours per day.I’ve had a standing desk for almost a year and half and I plan to keep it that way. Many people don’t realize that it’s not just how much physical activity you get, but also how much time you spend sitting that can affect your risk of premature death.

 A 2010 study by the American Cancer Society found that women who sat more than six hours a day were 37% more likely to die prematurely than women who sat for less than three hours, while the early-death rate for men was 18% higher. 3

Emily Binder at standing desk
Standing at my adjustable height desk, doing marketing.

I could write pages about the frightening negative health outcomes associated with sedentary lifestyles. Just check out Lifehacker’s “How Sitting Is Killing You” Infographic. If Americans would cut their sitting time in half, their life expectancy would increase by roughly:

  • 2 years (by reducing sitting to less than 3 hours a day)
  • 1.4 years (by reducing TV time to less than 2 hours a day) 4

Many great thinkers throughout history stood at their desks, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Virginia Woolfe, and Ernest Hemingway.

Ernest Hemingway at his standing desk Life Magazine cover 1960
“Ernest Hemingway at his standing writing desk on the balcony of Bill Davis’s home near Malaga where he wrote The Dangerous Summer.” — Life Magazine, Jan. 1, 1960

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of the myriad reasons why you should do everything in your power to get a standing desk, but maybe you haven’t taken the leap yet. I’ll make it simple and give you the top three reasons. Here are my favorite standing desk product reviews and recommendations. If sedentary office workers would stand up for a mere few hours more per day, I’d bet the farm that over several years, our entire country would be healthier and we would save billions on healthcare costs.

Lazy

You may work at a progressive office where standing desks are an option (like Google, Facebook, AOL, many startups, etc.). Maybe you see coworkers standing all day and marvel at them, wondering why anyone would torture themselves with unnecessary physical exertion and not take the easy route of sitting on a plush Herman Miller (or a cheap Staples chair wreaking havoc on your spine) for 8+ hours in a row. Well, either you’ve never tried standing, or you’re lazy. Office worker eating sitting at desk in cubicleIt’s okay – most people in the modern world are pretty lazy.

Let Michael Caine playing Robert Spritzel in The Weather Man ask you something: “Do you know that the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing? Nothing that has meaning is easy. ‘Easy’ doesn’t enter into grown-up life.” 

Three reasons a standing desk will save your life and make you more productive:

1. PREVENT CANCER: Prolonged sitting increases the risk for cancer. Exercise does not undo the deleterious physical effects of a sedentary lifestyle: working out does not erase the compounding of growing fat cells in your rear, the slowing of your metabolism, or the diabetic state that your blood glucose quickly transitions into when the body has been sitting for hours. “Researchers say that physical activity, even something as simple as standing up for a few minutes, releases an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which reduces the body’s levels of triglycerides and LDL (or bad) cholesterol. High triglyceride levels are linked to cancer, and LDL cholesterol is associated with vascular disease. Prolonged sitting precludes the flow of the enzyme.”2
Big rear end sitting in small chairWait, let’s reiterate this part: “Pressure placed in the buttocks and hips from sitting down for too long can generate up to 50 percent more fat in those areas.” 5

2.  PREVENT WEIGHT GAIN, KEEP METABOLISM UP: “Right after you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute.” You will burn an additional average 50 calories per hour simply by standing instead of sitting. If you stand for just half the day, that’s 200 free calories burned. We can at least mollify the fact that many of us eat unnaturally and too many calories by keeping more muscles in the body engaged for more hours of the day.

3. PHYSIOLOGY and PSYCHOLOGY – FEELING AND INTERACTING LIKE A BETTER HUMAN: You’ve read about the benefits of walking meetings (Steve Jobs was famous for them). Movement is good for the body and soul. A 20-minute walk in the middle of the workday has a remarkable positive impact on brain function.

Brain scan after sitting quietly and after walking 20 minutes

Standing is a lot closer to walking than sitting is, plus you’ll be more likely to move around. Coworkers who are standing are perceived as more open and approachable, with a tendency to more actively share ideas. This is anecdotal, but I feel more awake, more productive, and more energized throughout the day, which many others standers report, too. Sitting allowed me to marinate in workday lethargy, but standing wakes me up. Sitting encourages poor posture. Our bodies were not made to sit.
Think about all the crutches we use to wake ourselves up or to focus: coffee, a cigarette break, a jaunt of web surfing or online shopping, constant phone checking habits… Stand up and wake up. Increased bloodflow throughout the body will make you more positive, productive, and focused.

Office Reality and Your DIY Trial Period:

Unfortunately, many offices haven’t made ergonomics a priority yet. If you want to try standing, opt for a trial period with a free/inexpensive DIY setup – stack some yellow page phone books, paper reams, and/or cardboard boxes, then put your keyboard (elbows bent at 90 degrees) and monitor (eye level, no neck craning up or down) on top. Hear The Digital Dive Podcast episode on the DIY standing desk when Melanie first planted the seed in my head. Get used to standing by starting out with a couple hours per day and adding 30-minute increments each day. If you like it and you make it two months, then invest in some furniture. I was pretty psyched when I rewarded myself with the real thing.

I am lucky to work in an environment where I have an office with a door, mitigating the self-consciousness or unwanted attention that some new standers may fear in a cubicle setting. Seeing you standing will make some people uncomfortable, nervous, or defensive because of what it implies about sitting. Just smile and link them to any article cited in this post. In Part 2, I share my top three ergonomic desk product recommendations, including my own Kangaroo standing desk, my anti-fatigue floor mat, and two types of compression socks to help prevent varicose veins (which can happen from standing OR sitting too long over time).

Read product reviews of my favorite standing desk products:

Here’s to your health and productivity.

Sources:

  1. American Institute For Cancer Research – Cancer Experts Link Almost 100,000 U.S. Cancer Cases to Inactivity and Prolonged Sitting, 10/31/11
  2. American Cancer Society Press Releases – Study Links More Time Spent Sitting to Higher Risk of Death
  3. Are you sitting down? Cancer fears may alter the sedentary job. 3/8/12
  4. Mayo Clinic: Nutrition-wise blog: Do you have ‘sitting disease’? 7/25/12
  5. Guess What? Sitting Does Make You Fat. ABC News. 12/5/11

DISCLAIMER: I am not a trained healthcare professional. The information provided here is meant to educate and inform but is not official medical advice. Consult your physician before making any major lifestyle changes. The opinions shared here are mine and not those of my employer.

Updated 2/16/2017

Native Ads and Wearable Technology – Episode 25 – The Digital Dive Podcast

Video: Native Ads and Wearable Technology – The Digital Dive Podcast – Episode 25 (Vimeo)

–>Watch on YouTube

1. Instagram Ads: Native Advertising

Skinput arm - The Digital Dive Podcast- Native Ads and Wearable Technology

What will it take for a successful native ad to work on Instagram? Which brands are killing it now and why (Timberland, Redbull, Marc Jacobs)? The Instagram community is sensitive and accustomed to an intimate app experience – new ad execution is crucial. Our advice: Don’t be irrelevant and don’t be creepy.

2. Wearables and Google Brain

Wearable technology: it’s the future.

Mother wearing Google Glass holding baby wearing Google Glass

I am particularly ready to be done interacting with my devices on hard surfaces in the physical world. How will the rules of social etiquette adjust for a bunch of oncoming Glassholes? Our smartphone addiction is like cigarette addiction: both compel the addict to remove themselves from the moment. Google Glass can take away the physical barrier – maybe it will bring us back to being present.

Fashion meets technology: On July 2, 2013 Apple recruited Yves Saint-Laurent CEO Paul Denève to work on a “special project,” (presumably the iWatch), reporting to CEO Tim Cook.

Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve new Apple VP black and white

Denève’s career is known for fashion, but this will actually be his second lap with Apple; he was a European marketing and sales manager in the 90s.

Modern memory: The phenomenon known as Google Brain isn’t as bad as it sounds – we hope. Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow et al published key findings in Science (August 2011): Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips: “…when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it.” Maybe that isn’t so bad: if the world has made information more readily available, why shouldn’t our brains adapt to locate it faster instead of working on remembering it? It’s all about efficiency, as my co-host will tell you.

3. Alone Together

12:36-16:50 – Are Millennials and digital natives losing the art of conversation? There is a lot wrong with the common sentiment, “I’d rather text than talk.” I recap psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk and book Alone Together. Turkle asks: what are we losing by using technology to communicate when we want, how we want, and in an abbreviated and controlled manner? “As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other?”

14:00 – Melanie reminds us that as humans, we have historically had trouble accepting changes in society, in language, and in our bodies. Here’s our Death of the English Language episode (read: Emily’s head in Downton Abbey): U-Turn Into a Tech-Speak Future – Episode 5

Two great Sherry Turkle quotes:

The feeling that ‘no one is listening to me’ make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.

We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.

Tips on Tap

1. Tile App – Tile, the world’s largest lost and found. The Tile App on your phone makes it easy to find anything you have placed a small plastic Tile on. Keep track of your stuff. Preorder now for $18.95. “Works with iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd and 4th gen, and iPod Touch 5th gen. New iOS devices will be supported as they become available, as long as they have Bluetooth 4.0 support.”
2. Drinkify.org – Drink recommendations based on the music you’re listening to. I test out Elvis, Tool, Bach, and Nirvana.
3. The Intimacy 2.0 Dress: A sexy high-tech wearable: clothing that responds to your heartbeat. “The ‘Intimacy 2.0’ dress, designed by Daan Roosegaarde, is getting a rise out of the fashion world because its opaque fabric becomes transparent when you get aroused.”

 

The Digital Dive Podcast video thumbnail Emily Binder and Melanie Touchstone episode 25

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Digital Scars

The internet is a place where the birth of a single character is eternal. Blessing and curse in concert. Ultimate recorder of civilization- but is it worth the hard drive real estate? How long until we max out the digital space?

"Contemplating My Soul" by Punch Buggies
Artist credit: Punch Buggies on deviantart.com

How will the earth store our exponentially increasing input of data mixed with blood and dust? The master computers in secret rooms will shrink until near-infinite data is in the expanding cloud. Just as the same matter that is in our water was once in a dinosaur’s body, our text messages, tweets, and energetic outputs will somehow live on in this bionic state of existence into which our baby planet has morphed. This is not a forested plains land of indigenous peoples. This is not an unpolluted crystal sea. This is a greying, littered land of scars, where human action on the earth at large, and human interaction in the microcosm of our increasingly antisocial relationship conversation has departed from anything we could have been programmed for. I might call some of our cultural norms unnatural, but really anything produced on this planet must come from this planet.  Skyscrapers are natural, because metals were already here. We simply shaped them, maybe in a likeness of some god.

Ponder this: “Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.” -Ayn Rand

Some Native Americans believe that we store all our experiences in our bones. Assume that the pain body lives inside us, as Eckhart Tolle posits in Be Here Now. Psychology and medicine have repeatedly evidenced psychosomatic illness: your body reflects your mind. More than you realize.

If we are organic human bodies roaming this planet, cell phones in hand, relationships drastically altered as for the way our bones store their effects, their digital marks on each of our individual online clouds, how will that affect the collective unconscious? Has it already changed? Jung?

If Ayn Rand is correct, that “the skyline of New York is a monument of a splendour that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach,” then is the skyline of our digital empire in the cloud equally or comparably splendid?  Or is it too confusing in its very essence of lacking tangible metals from a steel mill and sturdy bricks and mortar?